Why dental pain is not all in your head, and what you can do about it
Being extra sensitive to pain isn’t fun. What others consider a scratch feels like a deep gash to you. A sprained knee feels like a broken bone, and you start avoiding things like dental check-ups and doctor’s visits out of fear.
So is it all in your head or due to a repressed negative experience from childhood? According to research, your body’s nerve endings might just be more sensitive to feeling pain. You also aren’t alone – research by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health reveals that one in six adults and one in ten children experience this.
So what is the average anxious Australian to do knowing that their next dentist appointment is looming or even worse, that they’re due for a root canal or wisdom tooth removal?
The very first thing you need to do is come to your appointment early so that you can discuss all your fears with your dentist. It also gives you time to take your first numbing injection and to wait for it to kick in without worrying about the time and having to head back to work.
The second thing you can do is to eat a small snack to settle your stomach. Many patients forgo food entirely, which only heightens their feelings of dizziness, nervousness and discomfort in the chair.
It’s important to note that the answer to overcoming dental pain and anxiety lies not only in your attitude but also with your dentist. A good dentist will take into account your anxiety and pain without brushing it off or rushing you through the process. If you feel rushed and that you’re being doubted, you will be the opposite of relaxed!
The ‘Tell-Show-Do’ approach should be adopted when necessary, especially when dealing with children. This involves your dentist verbally explaining in plain terms what they’re about to do, demonstrating how they’ll do it, and then talking you through actually doing it.
Remember that all the preparation in the world will be meaningless unless you have an understanding dentist at your side. So if you suspect that it’s your dentist’s attitude that’s putting you off, you might want to look for another provider.